Group donates $100,000 for Caribbean research

The Laurier-based Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) is funding a research project relating to sustainable governance in the Caribbean Sea.

After receiving a $100,000 donation from the Arsenault Family Foundation, ACUNS will evaluate the mechanisms that link the governments of the wider Caribbean region to regional organizations and institutions for oceanic governance.

“The Caribbean region is very diverse. You’ve got many countries that are at different levels culturally, economically, politically and socially,” said Patricia Goff, a Wilfrid Laurier University associate professor of political science and executive director of ACUNS.

“One thing that unites them is that almost all of them depend on the Caribbean Sea. What we’re interested in finding out is can there be broader, more region wide co-ordination.”

There are many regional governmental bodies, such as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of American States (OAS), which are currently operating within the Caribbean region.

The challenge facing the over 20 nations of the Caribbean Sea is expressing their regional issues to these intergovernmental bodies as stakeholders of a particular country.

What ACUNS will be investigating is whether or not these countries are conducting consultations with the private sector and successfully expressing the concerns at the regional level, or if they are simply expressing the concerns of a governmental ministry.

Another aspect of the project will examine the degree of regional co-ordination in response to environmental disasters. The Caribbean region is havocked by frequent hurricanes; by examining how the region as a whole responds to these disasters, ACUNS will seek ways to improve regional disaster response.

The main focus of the research project will examine how regional governments in the Caribbean region are linked to organizations and institutions for oceanic governance. It will also focus on strengths and weaknesses of these arrangements.

Goff explained that the focus of the research project is to see how countries are linked to these regional organizations.

“The project seeks to map how different countries are assembling the various perspectives that they have in their natural environment and communicating them at the regional level and how are they taking the findings from a regional meeting and communicating them back home,” said Goff.

The project seeks to make recommendations on the best practices for regional co-ordination. Recommendations will come from the project’s findings that will be relayed to regional groups.

ACUNS is acting in partnership with the University of the West Indies, the Dalhousie university marine affairs program and the One Earth Future organization. The findings will be released in early 2010.

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